Taif camel festival returns at full gallop

The second phase of the Crown Prince Camel Festival kicked off on Saturday in Taif. (SPA)
Updated 25 August 2018
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Taif camel festival returns at full gallop

  • Best in the region, the festival offers prize money worth $12 million
  • The festival promotes the camel heritage in Saudi Arabia, Arab and Islamic culture

JEDDAH: The second phase of the Crown Prince Camel Festival kicked off on Saturday in Taif after a weeklong suspension with the production runs for the “virgin female camels” and “pregnant female camels about to give birth” categories.

The festival promotes the camel heritage in Saudi Arabia, Arab and Islamic culture. Sport, cultural and entertainment activities are featured alongside educational workshops for camel owners and visitors.

Business leaders, politicians and camel enthusiasts from the Gulf states and other Arab countries took part in the Middle East’s largest display of the finest camels in Saudi Arabia and the world. Race categories classify camels according to their age, sex and the distance they can travel: Mafarid, Haqqa, Laqaya, Jatha’a, Thanaya, Heil, Zamoul and Soudaniyat.

 

Fierce contest

The 10 two-kilometer rounds brought fierce competition. In the first and fifth rounds, two virgin female camels, “Louka” and “Hafla,” took the fastest time with 3 min 1.8 sec. 

The results of all the rounds were as follows: “Louka” for its owner Dawas Saleh Al-Yami won the first round. In the second round, “Marmouk” for its owner Faysal Tahnoun Al-Hajjri achieved the fastest time, while “Wafiah” for its owner Saleh Dawas Al-Yami ranked first in the third round. 

“Thabet” for its owner Faysal Tahnoun Al-Hajjri won first place in the fourth round, while “Hafla” for its owner Saeed Modhfer Al-Ameri achieved the fastest time in the fifth round. 

In the sixth round, “Al-Tayer” for its owner Saeed Modhfer Al-Ameri was the fastest, while “Kouswa” for its owner Mohammed Btaichan Al-Yami ranked first in the seventh round. 

In the eighth round, “Al-Rabah” for its owner Abdullah Mouaid Salloum won first place. “Jamrah” for its owner Jouwai’ed Fouhayd Al-Ajami and “Shahine” for its owner Ali Rashid Al-Mari achieved the fastest time in the ninth and 10th rounds, respectively.

In Saudi Arabia, camels are celebrated for their beauty, grace and speed. Even as the country rapidly modernizes, the animals remain a central part of Saudi culture, and a lucrative one, with camel prices reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars and even breaking the $1 million mark.

The festival is the largest camel race in terms of the number of rounds, with a total of 781, including 308 first warm-up rounds, 20 production runs, two camel marathon rounds, 278-second warm-up rounds and 173 rounds in the final. This puts the festival firmly on top of the annual fixtures that celebrate Saudi culture, sport and the value of its age-old animal, the camel. The festival is considered the strongest of its kind in the region in terms of size and value of the prizes, with SR45 million ($12 million) on offer.

The festival includes a number of competitions, including one for photographers for a prize of SR90,000 ($23,998), and another for commentators for prizes amounting to SR125,000. The festival will continue until Sept. 2. 

 

Marathon rounds

Two marathon rounds will take place on Monday as part of the Crown Prince Camel Festival in Taif.

The two rounds will be 10 km long, one exclusively for Saudis and the other open to all participants.

Of the top 10 winners, the top two will each receive a car, while prizes worth more than SR684,000 ($182,371.5) will be distributed among the other eight. The festival’s media center urged participants to abide by the terms and conditions of participation.

The judges will closely monitor the competing camels using fixed-camera technology and a video system at the finish line to ensure the results’ accuracy, the center said.


Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

  • Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy
  • Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom

RIYADH: A major transformation is underway in Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with Pakistan, according to Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former ambassador to Islamabad.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, the former envoy said greater interaction between business and the private sectors in both countries will take the historical bond “to a new level.” 

Asseri, who spent nine years in Islamabad and was the second-longest serving Saudi ambassador to the country, said: “We know that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on religion, culture and values. There is a historical bond between the two countries. 

“I have no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking a cohesive approach to strengthen the relationship and take it to another level.” 

Asseri said that while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperated closely on security matters, bilateral trade between the countries remained limited to about $4 billion. 

“We need to ... encourage the private sectors to interact more. We can help Pakistan’s industry and we need to become more involved in the trade sector. There are advanced industries and firms in Pakistan, and they have raw materials — it’s a good environment for investors.”

Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy. The Kingdom is also making billion-dollar direct investments in the country in line with the China-Pakistan economic corridor. 

“I am happy to see a major transformation underway in Saudi-Pakistani economic relationships with our leadership and government deciding to invest in the economic development of Pakistan,” he said. 

The former ambassador said frequent official visits between the two countries were important. 

“I came back recently from Pakistan, and the vibe of the media, government and people was so optimistic. Pakistanis were excited about the crown prince’s visit. People hope it will bring great opportunities for the economy as well as strengthening the political and social ties between the two countries,” he said.

Asseri said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had faced many challenges together in recent decades.

In 2001, during Asseri’s first year as Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, the 9/11 attacks on New York led to greater cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh in dealing with terrorism.

The Kingdom had been closely involved with Pakistan since its independence, he said. “King Abdul Aziz sent King Saud and Prince Faisal to Pakistan at that time. So if we go back through history, we can see that this relationship is truly unique.” 

Asseri also highlighted the ties between the two countries on humanitarian issues, security and military issues, saying: “Pakistan has suffered serious security and humanitarian consequences of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, besides housing millions of Afghan refugees.

“Together Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have worked for peace in Afghanistan and will do whatever it takes to achieve this long-desired goal.”

Asseri said Pakistanis were quick to show their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s assistance in the past regardless of the change in Pakistani leadership over the years. 

“The relationship is unique because it is between people. Such a relationship (will) keep growing with every generation.

“When Pakistan was in a difficult position in 2005 after a devastating earthquake, Saudi Arabia went out of its way to provide the support it needed. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and eight ministers visited Balochistan. Field hospitals were created with Saudi doctors treating people and performing surgery there.” 

Pakistan also has a deep loyalty to Saudi Arabia, Asseri said. “Pakistan has military expertise, and through cooperation between the two countries, it helped the Saudi military during its development.” 

“The Kingdom’s recent appointment of a Saudi commercial attache in Pakistan will also bolster the economic links between the two countries,” he said. 

“There are good minds in Pakistan and good products that could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia.”

Asseri said he is also optimistic that Saudi plans to build a major oil refinery in Gwadar will help create an “economic hub.” 

The former envoy said the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan will add to the relationship between the countries. 

Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom. 

“Young Pakistanis who are advanced in the IT and industrial sectors are looking forward to helping and cooperating with Saudi Arabia, and sharing their experiences and knowledge,” he said.